Travelstart Raises $40M to Fast-Track Growth in Africa
Stephan Ekbergh, founder and CEO of Travelstart
Travelstart has just secured a $40 million investment from global technology investor Amadeus Capital Partners to expand and consolidate its presence in Africa.
This marks the online travel agency’s (OTA) first investment ever. Travelstart has been bootstrapped by its founder and CEO Stephan Ekbergh since its inception in 1999.
The company is focused on the Middle Eastern and African markets. Africa is a particularly attractive travel market that is estimated at $50 billion, and is witnessing a steady growth rate of 3% to 5% annually. For now, OTAs operating there share less than 5% of the market across the entire continent, so there are plenty of opportunities to grab.
Amadeus Capital Partners’ Andrea Traversone will join Travelstart’s Board of Directors as part of this financing. “[Travelstart is] one of the most profitable e-commerce companies on the African continent, and with this new round of funding [it] will be able to fast-track its already rapid growth,” said Traversone.
Along with the funding, the company has established a strategic partnership with Africa’s largest mobile operator, MTN, with over 230 million subscribers in the Middle East and Africa.“The investment from Amadeus Capital and the MTN partnership is a fantastic fit for our company as we share the same ideology and long term commitment,” said Ekbergh.
In a press release, Herman Singh, Group Chief Digital Officer at MTN, said the partnership complements the telco’s investments in e-commerce platforms. “The MTN footprint, subscriber base, payment capability, network, and brand awareness strongly underpin the synergies already being manifested in our other investments,” he said.
Travelstart is the biggest OTA in Africa. It is also present in the Middle East since 2014, and has offices in 10 countries including Bahrain, Egypt, Qatar, and the UAE. In December 2015, it launched Arabic versions of its websites to target more users in additional Arabic-speaking countries where its booking services are also available.